Event Title

Test Before You Leap: Implementing Proactive Chat in a Discovery Tool

Session Format

Presentation

Conference Tracks

Outreach, Services, and Programs

Short Description

The use of proactive chat services among libraries has become increasingly popular as a means to provide reference assistance to online students. When implemented successfully, these services have ability to reach students at their point-of-need and to make them feel more comfortable asking librarians for help. To create a seamless user experience, however, chat services must be thoroughly tested before they are implemented. In this presentation, two librarians will discuss their efforts to launch a proactive chat service in their library’s discovery tool, including major unexpected glitches and the extensive testing that was done in preparation for the launch.

Long Description

After several years of offering chat reference services, a small team of distance education librarians decided to launch proactive (popup) chat in the hopes of reaching more students at their point-of-need. In an effort to start small, the team limited the launch to just one area of the library website: the discovery tool. But for a fully online library composed of a mix of platforms (EBSCO products, Springshare products, databases from a number of different vendors, etc.) the team quickly learned that nothing is ever as easy as it seems. The librarians realized that students’ experiences would not go as smoothly as they originally thought, and that more thorough testing was needed in order to administer the new service successfully.

In this presentation, the presenters will discuss their pre-launch process for implementing proactive chat to uncover potential pitfalls and determine workable solutions. They will highlight what they discovered through a review of the relevant literature and demonstrate the end user experience of three different types of proactive LibChat widgets, illustrating surprising trouble areas. Attendees will engage in a lively discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each widget and will be asked to share their own experiences testing and implementing proactive chat services. The presenters will outline why they chose the type of widget they did, describe customizations made prior to launching the new service, and discuss what they learned since implementing the service in January 2020. Attendees will leave with a list of takeaways for successfully testing end user experiences in chat and proactive chat environments.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop a successful plan for launching proactive chat reference services

  • Test assumptions about the end user experience in online chat environments

  • Identify strengths and weaknesses of three proactive chat widgets

Comments

  • Tags – Springshare, LibChat, EBSCO Discovery Tool, proactive chat, beta testing, user experience service, outreach
  • Interaction Strategies – polling and group discussion
  • Intended Audience – Service developers, reference librarians, and library administrators

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Test Before You Leap: Implementing Proactive Chat in a Discovery Tool

The use of proactive chat services among libraries has become increasingly popular as a means to provide reference assistance to online students. When implemented successfully, these services have ability to reach students at their point-of-need and to make them feel more comfortable asking librarians for help. To create a seamless user experience, however, chat services must be thoroughly tested before they are implemented. In this presentation, two librarians will discuss their efforts to launch a proactive chat service in their library’s discovery tool, including major unexpected glitches and the extensive testing that was done in preparation for the launch.